Jewish student activists from around the world will have help in countering BDS and delegitmization campaigns against Israel on campus and in university environments, thanks to training sessions held in Jerusalem this week by the Global Campus Initiative.
The initiative, a joint project of WUJS, the European Union of Jewish Students (EUJS) and the World Jewish Congress (WJC), held the sessions on December 30, whereby the WUJS Congress delegates heard speakers and shared knowledge about the best ways to counteract the campus campaigns to vilify the Jewish state.
The initiative “will provide a network of people who have dealt with this before so that individual students don’t feel totally isolated and overwhelmed,” said JaneBraden-Golay of Switzerland, incoming president of EUJS and WUJS executive member, who attended the training.
Activists at the training agreed that there is no one cookie-cutter approach to dealing with what is a complex phenomenon across many nations and Maggie Suissa, campaign director for the Union of Jewish Students of the UK and Ireland, added that “GCI can be successful if it lets individual countries and student union members decide for themselves the agenda.” For Maggie, the ultimate goal of GCI is “to create articulate, well-versed, well-spoken Jewish leaders.”
Campus campaigns to boycott or otherwise delegitimize Israel have been especially strong in Britain, France and South Africa, and have featured an array of tactics, from street-theater “separation wall” installations and mock security checkpoints to hostile speakers, calls for universities to divest from Israel and attempts to ban Jewish student societies. Such campaigns have made less headway at American universities but are strong in certain cities, San Francisco being a prominent example. Disturbingly, the American Studies Association, a 5,000-member academic group of teachers of American studies, voted to boycott Israel earlier this month.
Ariella Carno, the national chair of the South African Union of Jewish Students and WUJS executive member, said that GCI would let students internationally share resources “so that we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.” Even so, she said, any pro-Israel student facing down a BDS or delegitimization effort “needs to know the rules of your campus,” such as when it is appropriate to involve the administration.
Pictures of the GCI day at WUJS Congress are available here.
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